Tag Archives: GMing

S³M Chapter One GM Retrospective

Overall GM Confidence: (starting) 3, (ending) 5 of 5.

I have to say, I think it all went really well, in spite of some (mostly behind-the-scenes) shaky bits here and there. The players all seemed to be generally engaged and responsive throughout. The characters were all interesting in their own way, and meshed well together, and gave me plenty of basic hooks to work with. My mechanical experiments got enough actual-play that I can use to make later refinements.

Some points-of-interest, in no particular order:

  • Actually, this marks the first ever campaign I’ve run to see a direct continuation into a subsequent run. A couple have continued with an entirely different set of players/characters in some form or another; and the Replacement Miners might count as well, though it had a more-or-less “hard” ending before moving on to the Sabo Affair with new crewmembers and ship.
  • As the first campaign of mine to benefit from a proper wiki site, I have to say that I found it really helpful, as GM. What I don’t know is how helpful it was to the players.
  • My current Plot Points/advancement system got a good workout this time. It was well-received, as far as I know; players didn’t seem to mind the lack of per-session awards or improvement, and they did get a mid-chapter opportunity to upgrade a bit. Plot Points didn’t get used as much as I had intended/expected; I will be overhauling the system based on that experience. Relationships finally got its first real test, and although it did see some use, it wasn’t as central as I had hoped—I have some refinements in mind. Same for the Paragon/Renegade mechanic. Mild success overall, with some useful lessons learned that should make it shine next time.
  • My long hours of work on the ship model paid off in being able to easily visualize ship-board situations. I’m definitely glad I did that. Aside from some polish on the ship, I need to work on Tamborro Station for next time, since it’s a central part of the story, and a number of situations that developed during the campaign could certainly have benefited from better definition.
  • My GMing strategy of late of only working on a given session in the week prior turned out to be more of a hindrance than I liked this time around—too many of those weeks found me lacking the necessary motivation, focus or inspiration to get it done right, resulting in a few sessions of rather low confidence at the start. Next time, I intend to put together a more solid long-term plan before the run starts. The “Save the Station” theme didn’t quite get the attention it probably deserved; that will be remedied next time as well.
  • Be it luck or design, the players didn’t push me too hard, nor did they truly surprise or stump me. Good and bad. What I had wanted from the (very) beginning was a Traveller-like sandbox, but the lack of established setting details makes that especially difficult, when the players don’t know where to go next without my telling them. This isn’t necessarily “bad,” it just means running a different kind of campaign. Before the campaign officially started, I had the players “create” a number of locations to visit during the campaign; I just need to build the pathways to those locations and let them follow—they (will) already know these locations are important.
  • The only time I really got “stumped” as GM was at the end, when I decided it was time to wrap things up. I really wanted a “satisfying,” climactic wrap-up to the chapter but I needed to compress things a lot, and I wasn’t sure how to do it. Even at the eleventh-hour, I didn’t have a solution I was satisfied with, and I ended up winging it, with only a couple of basic points to hit. In play, my “A > B > C > D” became more of an “A > E > G > D” progression—a bit out of order, but I had enough spare-parts to make it work, and in the end, they arrived where and how I intended, and it all worked out—and rather nicely, to my surprise and delight.
  • I suppose my biggest disappointment, overall, was not being able to do more with Zennith, as an “inventor.” The player didn’t really press, but there were bits here and there where it could have been highlighted, and I don’t think I did a very good job. Better next time.
  • Rigil thankfully spared me the extra headache of doing all the write-ups myself; I just handled the formatting and graphics. I still intend to go back through them and add links to the wiki, and “explain” more for those not in-the-know.
  • I really wanted to be able to run this “indefinitely,” in theory; I wanted to beat my 12-session longest run (Outlanders), at least. Ultimately, I suppose I could have gone longer, but I was being pulled in different directions by many other projects and found myself really needing to put this one down, so I wrapped it up a bit earlier than I originally wanted. Given the usual length of campaign runs in this group, and the number of GMs/campaigns in the current queue, it’s going to be quite a while before my turn comes back around, but it will, and I have no doubts at this point that there will be a Chapter Two (barring unforeseen changes to the group).

To be continued… (For real this time. 😛 )

A One-Shot Across the Bow


GURPS Sea Dogs, Adventure ½


Another GM in my Saturday group found himself having to slap together a game from scratch with naught but the week before to prepare it, and it ended up working out pretty well, so I wondered if I could pull it off myself. Then the opportunity arose the week prior to this writing, with some upcoming absences from the regular game, and I decided to give it a shot.

I had been wanting to run (or play in) a proper age-of-sail campaign for decades (literally), and have been considering such a campaign for this group, as it has virtually no genre overlap with anyone else’s campaign. But I hadn’t actually put any effort into it yet, so I would be starting from scratch, with only the week to make it happen.


It took me a few days to finally settle on the basic storyline: a small insurance company based out of Port Royal was about to pay out on a client’s ship lost to pirates, when said client received a ransom demand for the safe return of the ship’s crew—an unusual occurrence—through which the company was able to track down the pirate and his expected location. It would be far cheaper for the company to send some guys with a particular set of skills to retake the ship than to pay out for the loss.

My old Sea Dogs campaign that never saw production started in Nassau, which was also the primary location in the Starz TV series, Black Sails, and a notable spot in the Assassin’s Creed IV game. I chose to set the game there, as there should be plenty of material to work with. The target ship was a 100-ton sloop called McGuffin’s Prize, based on the ship in GURPS Supporting Cast: Age of Sail Pirate Crew for its GURPS 4e stats, captained by the silver-tongued Hans Olof, accompanied by his first-mate, a large African fellow named Chwengwe. Their opposition was a no-name French pirate called La Cage, who captained the brig, Antagonist (which I had to fudge some stats for, in the event they were needed); a brig was featured prominently in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the Interceptor, for plenty of visual references. Captain Olof had convinced the pirates to send the ransom note in order to keep them from killing himself and the crew, knowing that it was highly unlikely that the ransom would actually be paid. Also noteworthy, La Cage had been recruiting crew for the new ship.

To expedite the inevitable planning session, I would use a mechanic I had employed once before, that is, “Planning Points”: a number of Impulse Buys for adjusting the tactical situation with the caveat that the changes had been “pre-planned.” I wanted to do a bit of social engineering in town and that sort of thing, but in order to keep it simple, and enough for one session only, I just stuck with a couple of combat encounters, which, with the planning that would involve, would be a tight fit.

For the characters, I really didn’t care too much what we ended up with. I was going to recommend GURPS Action templates until I remembered Pyramid 3/64 “Pirates and Swashbucklers” issue had a few Dungeon Fantasy “swashbuckler” templates. I created a basic character for everyone to use, at the 250-point DF standard; two of the players created their own, but they were both based on the same template. They were all Weapon Masters—serious badasses—and I knew they were going to wipe the floor (deck) with whomever they encountered.

Other minor points of interest:

  • I decided late in the process to use Nicholas Cage as the bad guy, thus named La Cage; I have a long-standing dislike of him as an actor (it’s nothing personal, really), and I like to work him into my campaigns to get punched in the face 😛
  • Rigil’s character was an homage to his now-retired Banestorm character, Gabriel
  • I had a hard time finding stats for the Antagonist. Low Tech has smaller and larger ships than this brig, but not the same, and 3e Vehicles has a smaller version of both the brig and sloop. I probably could have worked it out properly from Vehicles, but it wasn’t really worth the effort since I wasn’t planning any ship-to-ship combat (though a pursuit was possible).



I started the PCs off at sundown, approaching the handful of pirates holding watch over the ships’ boats on shore, the McGuffin and the Antagonist, anchored together around 75 yards out in the Nassau harbor, just off Potter’s Key. Just trailing the PCs was the former crew of the McGuffin which had been rescued some time before, led by Captain Olof and looking a bit worse for wear from a couple of months neglected in the pirates’ custody—they elected to hang back until the all-clear was given. The only PC with skill in Tactics made the roll, with the others attempting to support; the support didn’t amount to much, resulting in three Planning Points to spend, which they held back for later. One of the PCs brought some bottles of rum, and the four PCs walked right up to the sentries and offered to share, claiming to be recruits. The sentries were caught completely by surprise when their new buddies produced their weapons in a flash and took them all prisoner, binding them and leaving them behind some nearby rocks, before making off with the boats. As GM, I was a little surprised the PCs let the sentries live, but whatever. 😛

After a bit of discussion—which pleased me not to take all night—the former-crew ended up taking two of the boats and rowing out ahead, taking cover in the darkness and waiting for the signal to approach, while the PCs took the third and rowed straight up to the brig, again pretending to be new recruits. I rolled 6d6 for the number of pirates aboard the two ships, and the PCs spent a Planning Point to reduce that number by 1d6, resulting in twenty; around half of them had muskets to hand, the rest cutlasses. La Cage was also aboard, arguing with the men over something-or-other.

As the PCs’ boat passed under the brig’s stern, Ronnke’s character slipped into the water and climbed up to the open gallery windows. They had spent another Planning Point to have an “inside man” disable the rudder—owing to my introduction of Hans Olof and Chwengwe, the players declared the inside-man to be a short, round fellow, wearing blue and white and whistling a lot. Once Ronnke’s character had entered the gallery, the inside-man handed him a dry pistol, while he reloaded one of his.

niccage-piratesI gave La Cage’s men a Reaction check against the newcomers aboard; I interpreted the “Bad” result as the pirates being unappreciative of the the interruption. But they also failed a Perception check to notice the ruse, so I declared Partial Surprise; the PCs won the initiative, and the pirates froze—only one round, though. The PCs went immediately to work butchering them mercilessly, with some minor, flashy heroics combined with some surprise Crit-fails/successes to make things a little more interesting. La Cage fell back across to the McGuffin to regroup but took a nasty spill running down from a cannon and face-planted on deck; Andricus’ character ended up stabbing him twice at random hit-locations: once through the back, the other through his manhood—this was actually unscripted. 😀 The fight lasted around seven seconds, with the enemy casualties a bit over half, the other half choosing to surrender.

Afterward, the signal was given for the old crew to join them. Some of the pirates were recruited to assist as well, and both ships were readied to depart, in no hurry since the pirates were no longer a threat.


The experiment worked out well enough. I managed to craft a decent night’s entertainment from scratch in the allotted week’s time, and probably had enough time to spare that, if I had wanted to spread it out over multiple sessions, I probably could have done more. Now I know, for me, it can be done. There were a few rules bits that I probably could have worked out beforehand, but that was pretty minor. My pacing was spot on; ended exactly when I intended. I was actually a bit surprised that the combat went pretty smoothly and quickly despite the numbers, though that was helped by only having four players to manage. I was also pretty happy with this second playtest of the Planning Points concept; this will undoubtedly be used again.

While I had already been considering a regular age-of-sail campaign, I don’t have any intention of it being a sequel/prequel to this one at all, though some of the characters or ships might certainly reappear in some form or another.

Universe Reaction


AKA “The Universe hates/loves me”

Some time ago, I ran a Traveller one-shot that focused on a race-against-time to complete a rush-job. But as GM, I dislike arbitrating little things like how long someone has to stand in the queue at the bank, and in the case of this one-shot, it feels a bit like GM “cheating” anyway. So I came up with the concept of the Universe Reaction Check, to circumvent my arbitration-guilt. It works like this:

First, you mentally ask the question, “What is it the PCs are trying to do right now?” Then you figuratively turn to the Universe and ask if it will help or hinder their efforts, at which point you roll (for GURPS) an unmodified Reaction Check (B560) and consult the appropriate Request for Aid entry for the answer, as if it were an intelligent being with the power to smooth things along or get in the way. Simple.

In the case of the aforementioned one-shot, I translated this effect into minutes/hours/etc. of delay or acceleration of their timetable—because that’s what was at stake (a “base” time-increment will be required, though, to use it this way). But the effects would probably differ in other situations based on the PCs’ intentions. For example, if some post-apocalypse PCs are scrounging through some ruins for food, a “helpful Universe” would mean that some food is available at that location (the amount dependent on how helpful the Universe is feeling), and an “unhelpful Universe” would mean there is none to be found, or worse, an ambush awaits—this might be independent of whether or not the PCs are able to find that food, only indicating how much is available to be found. As some of the other GMs in both of my groups have started to use Universe Reactions in their games, I’ve seen it used during chases to determine if “suitable terrain” exists for a stunt. As it is, the concept is widely adaptable to any number of situations, but the more industrious GM could also build out more situation-specific Reaction tables for greater detail or less improvisation of effects.

Of course, the standard GURPS Reaction system allows for modifiers to the check, and that can still be incorporated. In the Traveller one-shot, a PC with Bad Luck insisted on penalizing those checks in his case. Conversely, “good” Luck is really just a favorable Reaction result, so one could reasonably treat is as an Influence success against the Universe. There’s no reason one couldn’t assign modifiers based on PCs “karmic” status, or add cumulative penalties as the adventure progresses to increase the stakes. Using GURPS Action 2, BAD could sensibly be applied as well.

Lastly, it is easily possible to use the same concept in other game systems, either using the GURPS check/table as-is or a similar mechanic from whatever system is being used.

GURPS Traveller, “The New Deal” 1Shot.4

GM Perspectives and Introspectives

For the better part of February, I stepped in as guest-GM of my Saturday Traveller campaign. The nature of the overall campaign’s construction allowed for easy swapping of GMs, which would give the regular GM a chance to play in the campaign for a change. Plus, I had some stuff in mind that I wanted to see that, when presented with the guest-GM idea, made sense for me to run as guest-GM instead of waiting for the regular GM to get to it. I just needed the right opportunity, certain conditions met, to set it up. This would be my first GMing foray for this year, and the first since the Inception one-shot over a year prior.


In our regular Traveller campaign, we tend to hand-wave, for the sake of time/mundanity, the day-to-day operational details discussed at length in GURPS Traveller: Far Trader. I wanted to deliberately focus on those details, if for no other reason than to have that experience to reference, at least once. A countdown—like a race, or a tight schedule—would be an excellent justification for that level of focus; by taking each step of the process and introducing delays or other obstacles to on-time completion there would be plenty of content for a session or two.

As I started working on the one-shot when the time came, I also decided to take the opportunity to bring up a number of Disadvantages amongst the PCs—Enemies, Secrets, Duties and the like—which had gone neglected for whatever reason, and use those as the adventure’s obstacles. One such Trait came from the regular GM’s new character, Eddy, his Secret (Some Crime)—which turned out to have been removed when I wasn’t looking—to be represented by the appearance of a bounty-hunter which would threaten to expose said Secret by causing the others to ask “why?” This would be the centerpiece of the adventure. (I kept the bounty-hunter storyline anyway after I realized the Disad was removed.) I did not do any actual work on the content, that is researching and writing things down, until the week prior to the run—intentional standard procedure for me, of late, but I really wanted to keep this simple. I did not have a specific target for how many sessions the run would take up, but once I had the content sorted, I figured it would be at least two, maybe three—which turned out to be correct.

Dramatis Personæ

The PCs, for reference.

There were only two NPCs that I “officially” cast: Maaq Mountain (Dwayne Johnson, a mix of his characters from The Rundown and Fast and Furious 6) and Ulysses Pitt (Nick Chinlund, a “Tooms” ripoff from Chronicles of Riddick)—and crew. I didn’t stat them out, but I did have a general idea of their capabilities and background. I had a “face” in mind for the brokers, but I did not present that to the players—these were throwaway characters, really, and I didn’t want to lock in those actors. Truman Park (Matt Damon, from The Martian, specifically) was an on-the-fly addition—details on that later.



I wrote my own PC, Haank, out of the story, taking the opportunity to focus on an aspect of the character that hadn’t gotten much attention—he’s a “serious” golfer. Porozlo has a perfect environment for golfing, and the “celebrity tournament” made it something Haank would definitely not miss (and nobody would make a fuss). I had him take Valerie along to remove her from the crew’s concern, with the good excuse of getting her off the ship and in the open air for a while, something the character desperately needed. Haank also normally saw to the ship’s business interests ashore, his absence meaning that some PCs would have to perform jobs they weren’t accustomed to—intentional, to get them involved in those day-to-day details.

There are a number of mechanical adjustments/experiments I intended to use (as usual), as follows:

  • The “rush job” was specifically intended to create the “countdown,” to generate the dramatic tension for the story. I had already planned for Haank to get his HAZMAT certification at Rhylanor, so a hazardous cargo was a natural choice. I pre-generated the other outgoing freight and passengers, which turned out to be quite a lot—commerce between Rhylanor and Porozlo is very heavy, as it turns out—and this locked in the PCs’ intermediate stop at Porozlo, which was important to the PCs, due to their previous visit. I had to scour the books to find the standard deadline for freight, on TFT28; I worked out the tightest possible schedule for the rush job’s deadline.
  • My original plan was to have the bounty-hunter 24 hours behind the PCs as another countdown, giving them that window to get in and out of port before he arrived, but as I started to work out the details, specifically, how fast his ship would be compared to the overall transit time, I decided not to force it—it wasn’t really needed, and having the bounty-hunter at port at the same time would force them to get creative. I went over the Traveller: Bounty Hunters book a couple of times to get the background squared away—the bounty did not originate from the judicial system, but it was technically legal (all the paperwork was filed), though by private parties for private reasons.
  • I originally planned to give out points at the end based on Victory Conditions. One of those conditions, specific to Eddy’s player, was that, at the end, the other PCs were not made aware (in character) of the true nature of his “Some Crime” committed—of course, that was before I found out the Secret had been removed. I was a bit disappointed that it was no longer applicable; I really wanted to see how that might turn out in the end. The other Victory Conditions I had in mind were like “On-Time Delivery” and “Eddy Leaves with the Ship.” But I don’t like setting conditions like that without a tangible threat of failure, and I don’t like surprising the players with unexpected changes to the reward system, nor did I want to end up arbitrarily inflating point gains. In the end, I didn’t have a solid plan by game-time, so I dropped it; the conditions were all met anyway.
  • The potential for delays was going to be central to this adventure, but I didn’t want to arbitrate that sort of thing, so I came up with the “Universe Reaction Check.” It’s an otherwise-normal Reaction roll (B560), in the “General” category, with the results applied to the universe/environment. In this case, I didn’t have a fixed set of effects, I just gave them a delay in minutes for a Poor result, or hours for a Bad result, etc., and a Good result let them sail right through, unhindered. It actually worked pretty well—even got used by other GMs in other games afterward—but it’s not something you’d want to use all the time, just when it counts.
  • We had not dealt with “jump masking” before in the campaign (TFT60). I planned to introduce it here, and as it turned out, both Porozlo and Rhylanor were always masked. Fulacin was another matter; it was listed as being masked, but those “abstract” statistics assume a much closer position than the mainworld actually occupied—not to mention the lack of an allowance for binary systems. In the end, I eyeballed it, and decided the Fulacin mainworld was too far to be masked at all. I’ll have to figure out a better way sometime.
  • I used a system in my S³M campaign that allowed a Piloting or Navigation check to reduce trip time by fine-tuning the plotted course. As the timetable for this mission might come down to “hours,” it was a good fit here, and something I wanted to see in the regular campaign anyway. However, I didn’t realize until I began to use it in the game that, because of the way GURPS Traveller presents insystem trip calculation (via tables; TFT59-61), my old method needed some tweaking—Traveller gives the shortest route at the start, whereas my old mechanic assumes a less-efficient result that can be shortened. On top of that, the Traveller tables cover the conditions rather broadly, non-specific, resulting in a level of inaccuracy I don’t think is warranted. So, I ended up winging it a bit when it came up. After the run, we sorted out the details, and may use the adjusted version in the future in the regular campaign.
  • I planned to use what I refer to as “Reverse Influence”; the idea is to have the player make a secret Reaction or intended Influence Skill roll (being Fantasy Grounds, this would be “in the box”) immediately when the character meets the NPC, and after-the-fact, through dialogue and/or identification of effective modifiers that might apply, adjust the results of the Quick Contest throughout the encounter. (It’s usually done the other way around—figure up everything first, then roll.) The idea is that the encounter would play out in a more “natural” flow, the NPC responses and attitudes changing as a result of the changing Quick Contest results. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like this got the attention it warranted; I did do the rolling up-front, but there were no pre-prepared social encounters, and I didn’t brush up on Social Engineering beforehand like I should have. For what it’s worth, I didn’t encounter any problems with what was implemented, but Inception is expected to center around the social stuff, so I expect the mechanic to get a proper field-test there instead.
  • I’ve always wanted to see a bit more “color” when it comes to daily maintenance on a typical far-trader or similar vessel, and have used various mechanics to generate this sort of thing in the past. This time, I used tarot: I drew one card for each leg (in this case: pre-flight/takeoff, transit, entering jumpspace, during jump, exiting jumpspace, transit, and landing/post-flight) of the trip. On a draw of a Major Arcana, I rolled against the ship’s HT score (10); on a success, I worked out a “cosmetic” incident based on the card, and on a failure, an actual problem. For example: the artificial gravity cutoff was a failure (the card was Moon, Reversed), and the bad sensor a minor (9 of Wands). I figured the severity of whatever mishap occurred would be affected by the overall level of preventative maintenance done regularly aboard the ship, which in this case was properly and skillfully managed, so the repairs would be a small matter—I knew that would be the case, so I didn’t bother coming up with a system for that. I liked how it worked out, overall, and we discussed keeping it (or something like it) going after my run ended, though it was agreed that there should be fewer rolls per trip for that sort of thing—we’ll see how that goes in the future.
  • I continued to use tarot to generate a little extra color for encounters and such. It’s still working for me, plus I’m getting better at reading them. For Traveller, though, it feels a little funny to use a Medieval-themed Rider-Waite deck—something more “technological” would be more appropriate.
  • I broke up the events into 1-hour blocks and sorted them into a rough timeline, though some events would have to be plugged in as they happened. I had pre-figured the flight details, and knew the bounty-hunter would be landing at 3 hours after the PCs; I gave him a d6 hours to locate Eddy, then he would wait for an opportunity to take him. I used combat sequence to organize PCs’ actions throughout—this worked pretty well to maintain focus.

I had no real plan for breaking up the adventure once it started, but I guessed pretty well where the breakpoints would likely fall;. The second and third sessions benefited from extra time for polish and research. Here are some miscellaneous points-of-interest from after the game started:

  • Eddy has the Bad Luck Disadvantage. I fully intended to use it, probably to get him captured at the end. Instead, the player decided to use it on himself throughout the adventure, to generally-hilarious result. He insisted on rolling the Universe Reactions himself, and applied anywhere from a -6 to -10 penalty; one such failure was Eddy’s date interruption by the bounty-hunter.
  • At the time of the first session, I had not yet discovered a base time-period required to find freight. I did find a reference by the second session, Spaceships 2 p.41, that lists it at two days. This meant the PCs would be “rushing” their search, doing it in half the required time. I left the lots I had rolled up previously as-is, but adjusted the pricing down to compensate for the rush.
  • For the “bank” scene, I drew Queen of Cups—a romantic encounter. Before the scene, I had not considered that the subject might be Ella (the only female PC)—not that it changed anything, really, but with Abe’s encounter with Katelyn at the same time, I didn’t want to pile on. I told Ella’s player that she had seen a guy that was definitely her type, and had her tell me what that type was (rather than try to guess). I gave myself the week between sessions 1 and 2 to figure out what to do with him. Ella has had a rough time since the start of the campaign, and I felt like she needed a break, but at the same time, I couldn’t pass up a chance to mess with her a little, so I made him “too good to be true,” natural PC-paranoia inevitably suggesting him to be some kind of monster-in-disguise. Then I engineered the “date,” fully expecting she would be out of commission for a while as a result.
  • One time-slot in session 2 had multiple characters passing through the security checkpoint separately, in or out. I had them (and the bounty-hunter) each roll a single d6, and on a match, they would see each other as they passed through. They all missed each other in session 2, but another instance in session 3 had Ella and Abe encountering the bounty-hunter and Eddy.
  • The “chase” in session 2 was unplanned, but we’ve used the Action 2 mechanic often enough in this group that it wasn’t difficult to improvise. I did find myself a bit confused at the results of failed Stunt rolls; I still think following up the failed Stunt round with a round of “recovery” feels weird—but that’s another story. The appearance of the monorail was player-agency. I drew a tarot card; I don’t remember the card drawn, but the result was “no luck”—I felt at the time that it should mean the train was out, but I wanted to give it a chance, so I decided it would be leaving. The handling of the failed Stunt that followed is probably my one real GM-fail; I wasn’t prepared for potentially-lethal consequences, and would have benefited from more time to think that through. In retrospect: I should have grabbed an image to work from, so we were all seeing the same thing; I should have used random hit location to determine what part of Eddy got caught; and I should have referred to Escape Artist for Eddy getting loose.
  • I ended session 2 at the point where the PCs would be starting their rescue plan intentionally, to give them the week to think it over. In session 3, I planned to use the Action 2 “Planning” (p.17) mechanic to manage this—I wanted to test the concept for Inception. I skipped the “Big Picture” as unnecessary in this instance. When it came time, Sae ended up taking over the planning, and made the Tactics roll; I intended to give them some Plot Points at 1 per 2 points of success, but the roll ended up being made by 0-1, so they didn’t get any. If the roll was better, they would have been allowed to use those points to apply player-agency to the situation, even retroactively, saying “they planned for that.”
  • I took a short break once the bounty-hunter reached out for the booby-trapped handle to think over the situation, and the first thing that jumped out at me was a “cardiac-arrest,” so I went over the Basic rules for electric shock. As it turned out, the trap ended up doing just enough damage that, with the associated penalty, had the bounty-hunter failing the HT check by 1—if it hadn’t, I might have fudged it anyway; it was both convenient for the GM (wrapping things up nicely) and hilarious to the players. Sae’s critical failure to diagnose was icing on the comedy cake.


Session 1 RecapSession 2 RecapSession 3 Recap


GM Confidence: 5 of 5. Unusually, I did not experience the pre-GMing “dread” I normally do—I was really looking forward to running this one, maybe because it had been so long. Right from the start, I felt like it really went well; it had a really good energy to it, the pacing was fairly snappy, and I felt like the players were having fun with it. There was no combat, when it was all over—not planned as such, or intentionally avoided, it just wasn’t needed.

For the down-side: I really don’t have much to complain about, though there are a couple of minor things I would have liked to have done better. Specifically, the third session, after the bounty-hunter had been dealt with, felt a bit flat to me—too much like the wrap-up it was. And overall, I felt like there wasn’t enough for Sam to do; I felt like he had been left out, a bit.

Overall, I felt good enough about it that I pitched a straight-up Traveller game (borrowing the characters and other stuff from S³M—essentially, a continuation of that campaign, but in a new setting) to the Friday face-to-face group, and will be running it next, in place of Terra Nova (which I still intend to get to one day). As it happens, my turn is coming up in a few more weeks, so this one won’t be lingering in pre-production for very long. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how it goes.